Lynn Compton in his uniform during World War II
|Birth name||Lynn Davis Compton|
|Born||December 31, 1921|
Los Angeles, California
|Died||February 25, 2012 (aged 90)|
|Service/|| United States Army |
United States Air Force Reserve
|Years of service||1940–1943 (ROTC) |
1943–1945 (U.S. Army)
1947–1970 (U.S. Air Force Reserve)
|Unit||E Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division|
|Battles/wars||World War II|
|Other work||District Attorney, judge, radio commentator, author|
Lynn Davis "Buck" Compton (December 31, 1921 – February 25, 2012) was an American jurist, police officer, and soldier. In his legal career, he served as a prosecutor and California Court of Appeal judge, and is most notable as having been the lead prosecutor in Sirhan Sirhan's trial for the assassination of Robert F. Kennedy. Previously, he served with the Los Angeles Police Department. During World War II, he was a commissioned officer with E Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, in the 101st Airborne Division of the United States Army. Compton was portrayed in the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers by Neal McDonough.
Compton was born in Los Angeles, California. He was an athlete at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), being named an all-conference catcher and All-American selection in 1942. Among his baseball teammates was Jackie Robinson. Compton was later inducted into the UCLA Baseball Hall of Fame. He majored in physical education, with a minor in education. He joined the Phi Kappa Psi Fraternity in 1940. He also played with the UCLA football team in the 1943 Rose Bowl game on January 1, 1943; the Georgia Bulldogs beat the UCLA Bruins by a score of 9-0.
At UCLA, Compton participated in ROTC under Cadet Commander John Singlaub. In December 1943, he joined the Army and was assigned to E Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment in the 101st Airborne Division before Operation Overlord. During the company's action at Brécourt Manor, Compton and others, under the leadership of Lieutenant Richard Winters, assaulted a German battery of four 105 mm howitzers firing on Utah Beach, disabling the guns and routing the enemy. Compton was awarded the Silver Star for his action in disabling the guns. Episode two ("Day of Days") of the HBO miniseries Band of Brothers depicts this assault. During the battle, he threw a grenade that was said to have no arc and hit the German soldier on the back of the helmet.
Later in 1944, Compton was shot through the buttocks while participating in Operation Market Garden, the Allies' ill-fated attempt to seize a number of bridges in the Netherlands and cross the Rhine River into Germany. The bullet traveled sideways, through one side of the buttocks and out the other side. After a partial recovery, he returned to E Company in time for the siege in the frozen Ardennes that became known as the Battle of the Bulge.
Compton was evacuated for severe trench foot; Stephen E. Ambrose concluded that Compton had been "unnerved" by witnessing the carnage involving two of his closest friends, Joe Toye and William Guarnere. Compton wrote in his autobiography, "...although I was affected by the horrors of Bastogne, I do not believe I was clinically shell shocked, as the series portrays me. In real life, while I was hollering for the medic, trying to figure out what to do, I remember two distinct thoughts: How are we going to help the wounded guys?...Maybe this is the time the Germans are really going to get us all."
Medals and decorations
|Combat Infantryman Badge|
|Parachutist Badge with 2 combat stars|
|Presidential Unit Citation with one Oak Leaf Cluster|
|American Defense Service Medal|
|American Campaign Medal|
|European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with arrow device (airborne assault) and 3 campaign stars|
|World War II Victory Medal|
|Army of Occupation Medal|
|French Croix de guerre with palm|
|French Liberation Medal|
In 1946 he turned down an offer to play minor league baseball, choosing instead to concentrate on a career in law. Compton married Donna Newman in October 1947 and the couple adopted two children. He attended Loyola Law School in Los Angeles, joined the Los Angeles Police Department in 1946 and became a detective in the Central Burglary Division. He left the LAPD for the District Attorney's office in 1951 as a deputy district attorney, and was promoted in 1964 to chief deputy district attorney.
During his time with the District Attorney's office, he successfully prosecuted Sirhan Sirhan for the murder of Robert F. Kennedy. In 1970, Governor Ronald Reagan appointed him an Associate Justice of the California Court of Appeal. He retired from the bench in 1990 and resided in the state of Washington until his death.
Compton's memoirs, entitled Call of Duty: My Life before, during and after the Band of Brothers and written with Marcus Brotherton, were published by Berkeley Publishing on May 6, 2008. A celebration of Compton's 90th birthday was held in January 2012 with nearly 200 in attendance including Band of Brothers actors Michael Cudlitz, James Madio, Neal McDonough, and Richard Speight, Jr. McDonough developed a friendship with Compton while making the miniseries and kept in touch afterwards. McDonough's son Morgan is nicknamed "Little Buck" in honor of Compton.
Failing health and death
In January 2012 Compton suffered a heart attack. On February 25, 2012, he died at a daughter's home in Burlington, Washington. His wife Donna having died previously in 1994, Compton was survived by two daughters and four grandchildren.
- Compton, p.66.
- Brotherton, Marcus (February 26, 2012). "In honor of Lt. Buck Compton, 1921-2012".
- Lewis, Andy (February 28, 2012). "Band of Brothers' Vet Lynn 'Buck' Compton Dies at 90, Actor Neal McDonough played the sergeant in the 2001 HBO mini-series". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 16, 2012.
- ""Band of Brothers" soldier dies..." Associated Press via Yahoo News. February 28, 2012. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
- "UCLA alumnus and "Band of Brothers" veteran Lynn "Buck" Compton dies". Daily Bruin. March 7, 2012.
- Compton, p.60.
- Compton, pp.66-67.
- Compton, p.63.
- Compton, p.88.
- Compton, p.94.
- Lynn D. Compton (2008). Call of Duty: My Life Before, During and After the Band of Brothers. Berkley Caliber. ISBN 978-0-425-21970-6.
- Compton, p.107.
- Compton, p.132.
- Ambrose, p.201.
- Compton, p.143.
- Compton, p.152.
- "Jurist, War Hero, Prosecutor 'Buck' Compton Dead at 90". www.metnews.com. Retrieved February 10, 2019.
- Compton, pp.172-174.
- Compton, p.161.
- Compton, pp.180-181.
- Compton, p.209.
- Compton, p.xi.
- Compton, p.237.
- ""Band of Brothers" soldier dies". Associated Press via Yahoo News. February 28, 2012. Retrieved February 28, 2012.
- McLellan, Dennis (February 29, 2012). "Lynn D. 'Buck' Compton dies at 90; judge also known for WWII service". Los Angeles Times.
- Compton, Lynn D., with Marcus Brotherton (2008). Call of Duty: My Life Before, During, and After the Band of Brothers. Berkley Caliber. ISBN 978-0-425-21970-6.CS1 maint: Multiple names: authors list (link)
- Ambrose, Stephen E. (1992). Band of Brothers: Easy Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest. Simon & Schuster. ISBN 978-0-7434-6411-6.